Sunday, August 28, 2016

Hell or High Water

Director David Mackenzie’s Hell or High Water is a masterfully made film of  Screenwriter Taylor Sheridan’s bleak story of modern-day West Texas, an arid plain of decaying towns around which cowboys still exist.
Chris Pine and Ben Foster play Toby and Tanner Howard, two brothers, who rob small banks to raise money in order to save Toby’s farm from foreclosure.  Toby is doing this for his young sons, so they don’t have to grow up poor.  And Tanner, recently out of prison, is doing it half out of loyalty to his younger brother, but just as much because he has nothing else to do with his life.
 Paralleling their relationship is that of two Texas Rangers, the about-to-retire Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and the stoic, mixed-blood Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham), who is the butt of Hamilton’s tiresome ethnic jokes.

The acting is superb and the technical side of this production is superb, as well. 

It’s not a pretty tale, but, if nothing else, you will learn a slick way to launder money. 

I give Hell or High Water a 4 out of 5.

Mechanic: Resurrection

Director Dennis Gansel’s Mechanic: Resurrection is a fine action thriller in which Jason Statham plays Arthur Bishop, a hitman, who is provoked out of retirement by a former colleague (Sam Hazeldine) to kill three extremely well-protected underworld figures and make the hits look accidental. 
Bishop only agrees because his girlfriend (Jessica Alba) is being held captive and will be killed if he doesn’t complete his assignments within a scheduled time sequence.

The assignments are difficult in the extreme and Bishop’s artifice is fun to watch.

If you’re looking for thrills with a touch of humor, you’ll enjoy Mechanic: Resurrection. I give it a 3.1 out of 5.

Monday, August 22, 2016



Director Timur Bekmambetov’s Ben-Hur has superb Cinematography, thanks to Oliver Wood, superb Production Design, thanks to Naomi Shohan and superb Costume Design, thanks to Varvara Avdyushko. 
Unfortunately, the script by Keith R. Clarke and John Ridley is uneven, especially at the outset.

However, the biggest issue I have with this often sumptuous production is the casting of the two main characters.  It’s not that Jack Huston and Toby Kebbell aren’t able actors, it’s that they don’t have the “weight” to be featured in a $100 million production. I just didn’t care about either of their characters and kept thinking about who might have better played their parts to make me care.

And, although I’m big on happy endings, this production had a bit of overkill.

I can only give Ben-Hur a 3.1 out of 5.